Tendon inflammation

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What is tendon inflammation (tendinitis)?

Wrist tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons in your wrist. These tendons connect your forearm muscles to your hand and help you to control your wrist, hand and finger movements. 

 

If you overuse any of the tendons, you will experience wrist pain. Some examples of the conditions involving tendon inflammation are De Quervain’s tendinitis which affects the tendons near your thumb, or ulnar tendinitis which causes irritation of the tendons on the little finger side of your hand. 

 

What are the causes of wrist tendinitis?

As mentioned above, wrist tendinitis is the result of repetitive stress on the wrist tendons. All tendons are surrounded by a lubricating tissue called a tendon sheath. Repetitive motion can lead to inflammation and irritation, causing pain. If the sheath is inflamed, it is harder for your tendons to glide smoothly, causing compression on your tendon resulting in wrist and finger pain.

 

Symptoms of tendinitis of the wrist

The symptoms of wrist tendinitis vary and depend on its severity. The following are some examples of the symptoms. 

  • Difficulty performing specific movements, such as opening jars, turning doorknobs, or lifting pets and babies.

  • Stiffness of your wrist

  • Popping sensation when you move your wrist or fingers.

  • Swelling around your wrist or your fingers.

  • Wrist pain

 

When should I seek medical help?

There are circumstances when wrist pain might be caused or accompanied by severe issues. If such symptoms are present, it is best to seek immediate medical attention to avoid further complications:

  • Pain in your wrist is stopping you from doing normal activities

  • The pain is getting worse

  • The pain does not improve after home remedies for two weeks

  • Any tingling or loss of sensation in your hand or wrist

  • Painful, warm, swollen and stiff wrists

 

Diagnosis

To diagnose wrist tendinitis, your doctor will take your case history and your past medical history into account. They will check for any tenderness and reduced range of motion, joint instability and swelling or any other changes in appearance. They may also evaluate the nerve function to determine if you have another condition affecting your wrist, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Other imaging includes X-rays to rule out other causes of wrist pain, such as wrist fracture.

 

Treatment

The treatment for tendinitis is primarily non-surgical, and the pain typically resolves in a few weeks. 

  • Medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce pain and inflammation. Sometimes, your healthcare provider may recommend steroid injections in your affected joint. 

  • Physical therapy: Therapists can help you regain strength, mobility and range of motion in your wrist and fingers.

  • Rest: The most crucial treatment for wrist tendinitis is usually rest. Avoid typing, rotating your wrist or lifting a heavy item so your tendons can heal.

  • RICE: Home remedies such as rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) can help minimise wrist swelling and pain. You can ice your wrist for about 20 minutes every two hours. Be sure to place a towel between the ice and your skin to prevent any injuries to the skin.

  • Splinting: A splint can support and stabilise your wrist and fingers. 

 

Prevention of wrists tendinitis 

There are different measures to prevent tendinitis. Here are some examples: 

  • Don’t overwork the tendons in your wrist or hand.

  • Avoid smoking. (Smoking constricts vessels in our body, making it harder for the tissues such as tendons to get enough oxygen and nutrients, interfering with its ability to heal.)

  • Stretch your wrists before physical activity.

  • Take frequent breaks from any activities involving wrist and hand work.

  • Use a protective wrist splint.